Digital And Data's Relentless Transformation Of Media Industry Continues

  • by , Featured Contributor, September 17, 2015
Digital and data are rolling over the legacy establishments of the media industry. Events this week reminded us once again of the relentless, never-ending transformation that the media industry is suffering – or gaining, depending on your perspective – at the hands of digital and data technology and approaches.

Data point one: earlier this week, long-time online ad industry measurement pioneer comScore launched its first-ever TV measurement product, Xmedia, which is being welcomed with open arms by TV companies.

Data point two: Agencies apparently now know that they need lots of data scientists in their companies, but seem to have little sense of why they’re having such a hard time hiring these experts.

Digital approaches to TV measurement are coming quickly. It’s no surprise that comScore is entering the TV measurement world with its new cross-platform measurement service. That step seemed inevitable after comScore gained access to the Arbitron people meter data set as part of the Nielsen/Arbitron merger settlement with the government. However, I was bit surprised by the very warm welcome the TV industry is giving the company, given the industry’s historical reticence to change, as well as the difficulties new TV measurement initiatives have faced in the past (insert erinMedia or Project Apollo).



I saw this firsthand on Tuesday as part of a panel at comScore’s very well-attended Industry Summit in New York City, talking about “The Future of TV” with some of the television industry’s top researchers: Viacom’s Colleen Fahey Rush, NBCUniversal’s Alan Wurtzel, ESPN’s Artie Bulgrin and CIMM’s Jane Clarke. All praised comScore’s entry into the market and also called for greater investments by TV companies into new and improved measurement technologies.

They made this request now not only because measurements based on small samples of TV viewers can’t keep up with the audience fragmentation problem, but also because TV companies find their audiences shifting to digital products on mobile, tablet and TV devices. Granular, digital, data-intensive measurements are becoming the norm more and more with advertisers.

Which brings us to data point two from this week:

Data science (and scientists) are key to ad industry’s future, but many don’t know how to participate. The growing importance of data science in the ad industry was mentioned by several top media agency executives during sessions at DMEXCO, the Cologne, Germany-based global digital marketing conference that has fast become the must-attend event in the industry. That was not surprising. Folks in the industry have seen this trend coming for years -- it’s been part of the standard remarks of holding company CEOs for some time.

However, what I did find surprising (and a bit comical) were statements from media agency executives about the agency world’s difficulty in hiring data scientists, noting that it was a branding problem. I guess that to a hammer, everything out there looks like a nail. Apparently, some believe that agencies could easily hire a bunch of data scientists if data scientists could only be convinced that the ad industry is an exciting place to work. Sounds like agencies are only a good ad campaign away from data scientists beating a path to their doors.

It’s funny. There are a lot of companies that don’t have any difficulty hiring data scientists (insert Google, Facebook or Yahoo here). Maybe hiring data scientists is more a matter of giving them challenging problems to solve, putting them on teams with other great data scientists, and paying them the premium compensation packages that they deserve and earn these days.

Of course, as was pointed out to me by my colleague Pravin Chandiramani, leadership is also an issue. It will probably be a long time before agency holding companies have CEOs with names like Marissa, Sergey, Satya and Sundar.

What I know for sure is that digital and data disruption are here now and are changing our industry from top to bottom all the time. Seems as if no week goes by without similar stories and reactions. It's going to get a lot crazier before it gets calmer. What do you think?

5 comments about "Digital And Data's Relentless Transformation Of Media Industry Continues".
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  1. Robert Barrows from R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations, September 17, 2015 at 8:35 p.m.


    The best way to measure the effectiveness of any kind of advertising is with some advertising math called “The Barrows Popularity Factor.” It shows you how you can actually QUANTIFY the relationship between your advertising and sales and it can help your company make a lot more money. Plus, the math is extremely easy to use and all of the calculations can be done by one person, in moments, with just a simple calculator. You can read all about it in a booklet called “The Barrows Popularity Factor.”


  2. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia, September 18, 2015 at 8:23 a.m.

    Thanks for the comment Robert. I agree that measuring ad effectiveness starts with simple evdence-driven approaches and correlations. However, given today's audience fragmentation and the need for advertisers to deploy, track and attribute their commercial messages across many diferent marketing and media channels simultaneously, ad effecitveness measaurement will require more complex, experimental design approaches and true data science will play a big part in it.

  3. John Montgomery from GroupM Interaction, September 21, 2015 at 12:39 p.m.

    Dave, agencies may not be able to pay top dollar or be the first call for Data Scientists yet - but I think we soon could be. Agencies are arguably wrestling with the most interesting data challenges: those that connect the impression with the sale (or the desired action). That means understanding the consumer's behavior across devices, including non digital media and retail overlaid with investment automation, supply chain safety issues and media pricing.
    Its a huge and fascinating challenge and we are working hard at it.
    John Montgomery

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 9, 2015 at 9:14 a.m.

    Who pays ? Who pays those ginormous salaries for more "scientific" data experts to sell the consumer more stuff for more profits to pay them more money ? There will be another some kind of revolution coming and it will be televised, datified, analyzed and the consumers will not want to pay more for the same products to pay those ginourmous salaries to datafy and analyze as ad blockers become more ubiquitous. 

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 9, 2015 at 9:45 a.m.

    Dave, while I wish comScore and Rentrak the best, it's a little premature to say that TV companies are welcoming their new service with "open arms". One reason that network and cable researchers applaud any newcomer into the TV rating field is their hope that this will pressure Nielsen to make some long-awaited improvements in its service sooner---not later.

    There have been past occasions when "outside" initiatives like AGB's "peoplemeter" and, more recently, the excellent SMART network-funded research program and eventual proposal for a new TV rating service, received lots of verbal "support"---until the time came to fork out the big bucks and get serious. In the case of AGB, Nielsen simply pre-empted it by switching to its own version of the peoplemeter. I would like to think that SMART prompted Nielsen to up its game, but I can't say for sure. Anyway, Nielsen is still with us.

    As for the "relentless" advance of digital and its transformation of "legacy media" what is actually happening is a fairly measured mingling of ideas with both sides ---if "sides" is the right term--- exploring and learning from eachother. What will eventually happen, as is so often the case, will be that the most feasible and practical elements from both disciplines will be melded together, often by trial and error, until what really works gets locked into place and the theorizing is cast aside.

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